Epiphany 2017

     Have you ever stopped to think about the Magi? Who were these people? Why would these rich people from the east leave the comfort of their home to follow a star? What was it that prompted them to take such a dangerous journey? Year after year I am fascinated by these wise men from the east and believe that ultimately there is only one answer to these question “truth.” The magi were not Jewish and perhaps they were not religious at all, but they were truth seekers, which ultimately lead them into an encounter with Him who is Truth itself, Jesus Christ.

     These wise men were so interested in discovering the truth to life’s deepest and most challenging questions that nothing was going to stop them. They were men of courage and humility simply seeking the truth. Today the Church holds up the magi for our admiration and imitation. She calls us to become magi by becoming men and women of courage and humility seeking after the truth. She invites us to set out on the quest of faith to discover Him who is the truth.

     The wise men are truly models for our time. Today we seem to live in a world that puts too much emphasis on our own thoughts, feelings and desires and seems to forget about the truth. I don’t know about you, but I personally want to rise above my own thoughts, feelings and desires, which are prone to mistakes, to live in conformity with the truth. Like the wise men, I want that courage to set out on the journey of faith with the humility to accept where the truth leads me, trusting that the truth will lead to a life of peace and joy.

     As we start out on this journey of faith we are invited to look to the Church as our star. While there have certainly been many great thinkers and founders of religions over the centuries history shows us that Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church. While all other founders of religions and great thinkers were merely men and woman who died and remained dead, the founder of the Catholic Church gave His life for us and then rose from the dead to bring us to eternal life. I don’t know about you, but when I die, I want to rise to eternal life and so I am motivated to live the teachings of the Church because I know they allow me to follow Christ through the cross to light.

     Now our Church does not advocate a blind faith. No God gave us our minds to comprehend Him and so we are encouraged to use of our mind, after all “faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth – in a word, to know himself – so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”[1] Since both faith and reason come from God, they have the same starting point and they cannot contradict each other.

     While our minds can help us comprehend the answer’s to life’s deepest questions, they are also prone to make mistakes and we can find our personal beliefs at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church. When we find ourselves disagreeing with the Catholic Church, I think we need to ask ourselves two simple questions: what and why. First we need to take the time to discover what the Church actually teaches. Sadly, today there is allot of misinformation out there and so it can be easy to have a mistaken notions of what the Church actually teaches and often we can find ourselves disagreeing with what we think the Church teaches and not what she really teaches or if we do know what she teaches, we often disagree because we don’t know why she teaches what she teaches.

     I think we also have to ask ourselves why we disagree with the Church. Often we can be tempted to disagree with the teachings of the Church because we feel a certain way. While our feelings are important, we shouldn’t base life decisions on a feeling. I can feel like eating only pizza at every meal, but that doesn’t make it the healthiest choice for me. I can feel like I’m going to win the lottery but that doesn’t mean I’m going to win. I can even feel that it is ok to go out in the street and kill someone, but it still doesn’t make it right. Often times when we disagree with the Church we feel passionately about our reason, but does that really make it true? I can passionately believe I can fly but when I jump out of an airplane without a parachute guess what happens? I passionately die! I don’t know about you, but I want the courage and humility of the magi to come and experience Him who is my savior, not some notion of whom I think He should be.

  My friends, the magi saw that shining star and desired to pursue the truth and so were lead to a deep and personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Herod and his wise men were given the same invitation but feared surrendering their wills to the truth and thus missed the opportunity to have that life changing relationship with Jesus. Just as the star in the sky, invited the magi to seek after Him, who is the way to truth and the life, so too, our Church is that star beckoning us to come and find the little child in the manger. That child in the manger has something He wants to tell each and every one of us. Are we willing to be seekers and journey with the magi to find the Truth, which will ultimately lead to peace and joy or would we rather be like Herod and trust solely in ourselves and miss a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ?

[1] Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter on the relationship between faith and reason Fides et Ratio. 14 September 1998. Preamble.

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